As an example of investigative filmmaking, 2010's Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove was a stunning achievement. For animal lovers and environmentalists, however, watching the show made for a harrowing experience. The annual entrapment and mass slaughter of dolphins in Taiji, Japan, is undeniably horrific, but the film also raises the difficult question: is that trade really any worse than the barbaric practices of the meat industry, to which carnivores turn a blind eye?
The Cove director, Louie Psihoyos, has once again risked life and limb, going undercover to reveal the world of endangered-species trafficking in his ground-breaking documentary Racing Extinction (Discovery Channel, Wednesday, 9pm). With a team of wildlife photographers, conservationists and environmental activists, Psihoyos exposes some of the criminals involved in the industry, including those in the wildlife markets of southern China.
"What's going on is unprecedented. Some people say we're losing 30,000 species of animals a year - gone, extinct - and we as humans are wholly responsible," National Geographic photographer Psihoyos told the New York Daily News.
Hongkongers should be especially sickened to hear that their city is a "Walmart of endangered species": a one-stop shop for rare creatures.
"I feel like this world is absolutely insane," says a gobsmacked Psihoyos, upon witnessing more than 20,000 shark fins drying on a Hong Kong rooftop.
But it's not only entire species, such as the northern bald ibis (above), that are in trouble. Hi-tech photography provides a glimpse into the hidden world of our carbon-dioxide emissions, showing just how close climate change is to wiping out the human race.
While not as blood curdling as The Cove, Racing Extinction is still sickening. But, with its ultimately positive message, it is essential viewing.
The prospects of our civilisation's survival may seem bleak, but there is still, thankfully, a small window of opportunity to make things right, and we should all be counting our lucky stars that we don't have to also deal with supernatural creatures of the like seen in Halfworlds (top).
Filmed on location in Jakarta and directed by Indonesian Joko Anwar, this eight-part fantasy horror series (beginning tonight on HBO, at 10pm) is HBO Asia's latest foray into original content production.
In the bustling streets and back alleys of the Indonesian capital, a race of mythological demons lives quietly alongside humans. But the arrival of a mysterious supernatural "gift" is about to bring that hidden world to the surface.
Featuring a cast of Indonesian film stars, Halfworlds styles itself as gritty comic-book noir, and while it looks all dark and sexy (there's blood, leather, tattoos, rock stars, knives and plenty of shady characters) sadly, this vampire soap opera has nothing meatier to it than a Lady Gaga video.
The storyline promises so much more than it delivers, and the premiere drags like an asthmatic snail carrying bags of heavy shopping.
Despite how scary it is, perhaps we're all better off living in the real world.